Thursday, October 31, 2013

Knocked by Carter

Hot Air is reporting that our President was knocked by Carter.  Yeah, that Carter, Jimmuh Carter, the peanut farmer from Georgia.
JC: “He’s done the best he could under the circumstances. His major accomplishment was Obamacare, and the implementation of it now is questionable at best.
That's gotta hurt.  Coming from arguably the worst president in the 20th century, it's damning.  Carter, you might remember, led the country during a time of malaise, where cars lined up for gasoline, prices were high, inflation was dragging at every paycheck, and our foreign policy was a shambles to the point where other countries mocked us.

Of course, in 1979, the last year of the Carter presidency, a gallon of gas cost 86 cents, and unemployment was hovering around 6%.  Yeah, our foreign policy was a nighmare, but people were working.  I guess, by a couple of standards, we can say that Carter did a better job than the Lightworker.

If I were Obama, I'd lock myself in a closet until this term is over.  When you're knocked by Jimmy Carter, your presidency is in the shitter.

Red Sky

Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.

This photo from near my duty post at daylight this morning.

As it turns out, the old caution was correct.  We had terrible weather today.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Reap What You Sow

In reviewing this Obamacare mess, it is instructive to note that it was not a bipartisan effort.  No, this disaster belongs entirely to the Democratic Party, and one small period when they had control of the Senate.  Byron York lays it out.

Obamacare is the product of a brief moment of total Democratic dominance in Washington. Key to that dominance was a 60-seat, filibuster-proof Senate majority. It wasn't a sure bet for Democrats; despite victories in 2008, the party's hopes for that majority depended on the defection of formerly Republican Sen. Arlen Specter and the outcome of a contested race in Minnesota. After a controversial recount, Al Franken became the 60th Democratic senator on July 7, 2009, giving Democrats an unassailable edge.
But that majority disappeared just 49 days later when, on Aug. 25, 2009, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy died. State law called for a special election to fill the empty seat. That would have taken months, and as public opposition to Obamacare grew, Democrats became increasingly anxious to pass the bill as quickly as possible. Luckily for them, Democrats in the Massachusetts legislature came to the rescue, changing the law to allow the immediate appointment of Democrat Paul Kirk. Sworn in on Sept. 24, 2009, Kirk gave Democrats 60 votes once more.
After Obamacare passed the House on Nov. 7 -- over the opposition of 39 Democrats and all but one Republican -- Senate Democrats raced to get the job done. Threatening to keep the Senate in session through the holidays, they finally passed the bill -- 60 Democratic votes, not one to spare -- in the early hours of Christmas Eve.
Even as that vote was taken, a little-known Massachusetts Republican named Scott Brown was rising in the polls in the race for Kennedy's seat -- by promising to become the 41st vote against Obamacare. On Jan. 19, Brown's victory shocked the political world. When he was sworn in on Feb. 4, the second period of a Democratic filibuster-proof majority was over. It had lasted 134 days.
As they say, go read the whole thing.  This thing belongs to the Democrats, lock, stock, and barrel.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cardio

When I was wearing a uniform for the reserve forces, I had a set routine.  I'd get up at 5:00 am, get into my workout togs and go to the gym.  I had a route planned, and I'd do some strength training, then run two miles, get back to the gym, shower and head to work, getting there at about 7:00 am.  The office officially opened at 8:00, so I'd have an hour of quiet time to get my act together for the day.

When I retired from the Guard in 1999 I quit running.  I haven't run more than ten steps since then, and I've gained some weight, in March of the year, I was up to 260 lbs.  I decided I needed to lose weight, so I got into Weight Watchers and started eating smart, getting off wheat, watching my carbs, doing all the smart stuff.  I dropped 20 lbs and stuck at 240.  I've been stuck at 240 for about three months, so I decided that some cardio (gag, spit) might be in order.  Especially after my doc told me that if I didn't drop another 40 lbs that I was in real danger of becoming diabetic.

So, today I began walking.  During the hour between the end of the work day I walked around downtown Alexandria.  By that I mean that I walked from the hospital to the Interstate, down to Lee Street, back to the river, then across to the hospital.  Something over a mile-and-a-half, in a little less than 30 minutes.  Not a fast pace, but I haven't done any cardio in about 13 years.

It's back to the PT, and I'm almost completely out of shape.  God, I hate PT.

Hillary as SecState

You all remember that Hillary was the Secretary of State, and some folks are even talking about her presumptive run as President.  John McCain weighed in recently, with faint praise for his former associate.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that Secretary Clinton would be a very strong candidate,” McCain said of the former secretary of state, senator from New York and first lady. “I don’t think there’s any doubt she has widespread support. Her work as secretary of state, with the exception of this issue of Benghazi — which isn’t going away — I think has been outstanding. I think she would be viewed by anyone, Republican or Democrat, as a very formidable candidate for 2016.”
Yeah, you see, John, that Benghazi thing isn't going away.  But beyond that can anyone give me one sterling accomplishment during Hillary's tenure as SecState?  Just one?  I'm not asking for three, or four.  Just one?

I've got nothing.

The New Stamp

Folks are telling me that the US Postal Service is rolling out a new Forever stamp to commemorate the rollout of Obamacare.


Hat Tip to The Cripple.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Line of Duty

Over at Pajamas Media, Bridget Johnson reports on the FBI crime report, specifically those officers killed in the line of duty.  She doesn't provide a link, but we can assume that she's quoting directly from the report.
The FBI reported this morning that 95 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2012, while 52,901 were assaulted while on the job.
That's 95 too many, and while some of those were killed in accidents, a substantial portion of those were not.
 “Of the 48 officers feloniously killed, 12 were killed in arrest situations, eight were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances, eight were conducting traffic pursuits/stops, six were ambushed, five were involved in tactical situations, and four were answering disturbance calls. Three of the slain officers were handling, transporting, or maintaining custody of prisoners; one was conducting an investigative activity, such as surveillance, searches, or interviews; and one officer was killed while handling a person with a mental illness,” the FBI said. “Offenders used firearms to kill 44 of the 48 victim officers. Of these 44 officers, 32 were slain with handguns, seven with rifles, and three with shotguns. The type of firearm used was not reported in the deaths of two officers. Two officers were killed with vehicles used as weapons, one with personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.), and one with a knife.”
It's appalling to look at the numbers, and it's even more appalling when you carry a brother to his final resting place.  We deplore the deaths, yet we look on them as a natural hazard of the job.  I could expound at length about the hazards of the job, but many of them are the same hazards that Americans face every day.  As I am nearing the autumn of my career, I have an assignment that's pretty quiet, fairly sedentary, and provides plenty of time for assessment.  People tell me every day, "Man, I'd love to have your job."

Depending on my attitude at the time, and the person I'm talking to, I might reply that it takes 30 years behind the badge to get a job like this.  Or, I might just say, "Yeah, it's a great job, right up until the instant when it isn't.  Then, it becomes a terrible job, real quick."

Rest in Peace, brothers.  You've passed the watch and can rest quietly.  The rest of us will be here watching.  Keep the coffee hot.  We'll get there eventually.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

In the Game Cam

We put a game camera on the little acreage that the family owns and caught some pictures of a really stunning deer.  About 200 yards behind Momma's house.

That's one of several that's using the feeder.  He's often joined by a younger 6 point.  And a couple of does.  Rut hasn't started yet, but we have at least two big bucks using the feeder.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Hunting for the cat.

The cat's over here.

He's not a very good hunting dog.  But we knew that when we got him.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

From the Stand

No, I didn't make meat this morning, but I spent several enjoyable hours in the deer stand.  Here's what I see when I'm sitting there.


I'm sitting in a chair, looking at that shadowed area down the pipeline.  The rifle is sitting on a bag on the window ledge.  If Bambi walks out, I'm ready to convert him to venison.  This isn't hard hunting, indeed, some would say that it's not hunting at all.  It's deer shooting, but it's a real common way of turning deer hide into food.

Milady and I have plans for two Halloween parties tonight, and I have to be ready to party, so I think I'll get a nap.  If you'll excuse me, my easy chair is calling me.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Final Prep

I could talk about politics, but that's so gauche when the hunting season is upon us.  I've got the truck partially loaded, and the final gear stacked by the door.  Checking my list to make sure I don't forget anything.

Goatwhiskers reminds me in comments earlier to not forget cartridges.  Good call, Goatwhiskers, but when I posted that the cartridges were already on the butt of the rifle.  There are nine in an elastic Allen cartridge holder and those nine should see me through the season.

I did leave my day-ruck off the list and it's going in the truck.  Things like a handheld GPS, a pair of Nikon binocs, a fawn bleat can call, a roll of toilet paper, some small wire-ties for affixing deer tags, and a small first aid kit.  All that will be left to do tomorrow will be to get my part of the noon meal out of the fridge, throw the day ruck into the truck, and fill my thermos.

I'll let y'all know tomorrow how it turns out.

Participation

When you're talking unemployment, it is instructive to remember that by definition, you can be unemployed for only a limited amount of time.  Once you exceed that time your unemployment benefits lapse and you drop off the rolls of the unemployed.  So, if a bazillion people lose their jobs, stay unemployed until their benefits run out, and still don't find a job, they're not unemployed any longer.

Courtesy of the Cajun, we find a little graph that shows labor force participation.  It's instructive because even if the official unemployment numbers get better, we see that there are a hell of a lot of people out of work.

Very instructive.  When our President first took office, the labor force participation rate stood at about 66%.  Now it's down to less than 64%.  We've lost a lot of people in the labor force, and many of those have part-time jobs thanks to our President's policies.

Now, if you'll excuse me I have to leave this computer and get ready to go to work.  I'm one of the lucky 63% who gets up and goes to work every day.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Girly Hats

It seems that our President doesn't have enough to do, what with the botched Obamacare rollout, and the IRS hearings, and the Benghazi debacle.  No, he's got plenty of time to screw with the uniform regulations of services that he never bothered to serve.
According to the New York Post, President Obama's plan to create a "unisex" look for the Corps has officials on the verge of swapping out the Marines' iconic caps with a new hat that some have derided as so "girly" that they would make the French blush. 
He's got all the time in the world to screw with the uniform regulations, now that Kerry has gotten us thrown out of Saudi Arabia and his entire Middle East policy is in disarray.  Sure, why not screw with the Marines?  Besides, those hats probably aren't that bad, are they?

Old hats on the left, new hats on the right.  I understand that they're going to be called the Dan Daly hat, after a Marine who won the Medal in WWI.  Of course, after looking at Daly's picture under the link, he might have approved.  But I don't think that the President, nor any cabinet member, nor yet any civilian should be telling the Armed Services what they should wear.  Don't they have anything better to do?  Like fix healthcare?  Or meet his tee-time?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Prepping

The regular gun season of our deer season starts Saturday, and I'm prepping.

Rifle, check
Carry bag, check
Deer stand, prepped and ready.
Fuel in truck, check
Coleman stove, check
My portion of the camp breakfast, check.
License and tags, check

I guess I'm ready.  We do breakfast at the hunting camp differently than most.  Everyone on the club lives nearby, so we'll get up at our houses and go directly to the stand on Saturday morning.  After the morning hunt, we'll meet at the camp, sometime about 10:00, and cook a big breakfast.  Oh, there will be biscuits and eggs, and sausage, and bacon, and who knows what else might show up there.  I'm bringing my Coleman stove and a skillet to cook eggs.  I'll probably be pressed into service to cook gravy as well.

If anybody gets lucky, we'll be dressing a deer.  If no one gets lucky, we'll tell lies, cook together, then say grace before the meal.  It's part and parcel of the camp cooking tradition.  We give thanks to our Maker for the woods, and the smoke, and the fire.

If you need me before noon on Saturday, I'll be in the woods.  I'll be home sometime in the early afternoon.

Quick Mixed Veggie Soup

On those busy days where you don't have time to cook, it's good to have a couple of recipes that are filling, tasty, and quick.  Today I'm highlighting my quick vegetable soup.  There's almost nothing to it.



Quick Veggie Soup

1 bag Pictsweet Mixed Vegetables
One piece good port tasso
One can Rotel original tomatoes and chilis.
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Prep.
Cut up the tasso into 3/8th inch chunks.  In a large saucepan, combine water, tasso, mixed vegetables and Rotel tomatoes.  Add water. Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook on a simmer for an hour or so, or until you can't stand it any longer.

Serve with saltine crackers, or a good cornbread.  If you don't know how to make cornbread, this recipe is as good as any, and better than most.  I think I'll ask Milady to make a cornbread when she comes home.  Yeah, I can cook cornbread, but she makes a better one than I do.  And, she can make a small pone, where mine always fill a big skillet.

The Bad-News Ban

There's no doubt that the President (indeed all Presidents) live in a bubble.  The constraints on his time and the security concerns of his staff make that imperative, but Jennifer Rubin lays out the case that President Obama has laid out a bad-news ban in the Oval Office.
In any other administration this would be inconceivable, but in the current one Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius might be telling the truth when she says the president — you guessed it — learned about the Obamacare debacle from the media.
If this is true, and it seems to be plausible, then the President didn't really know how bad the roll out would be until he saw it on the news.  If true, that's a damned shame and a failure of leadership.
 This follows the explanation given about the Internal Revenue Service scandal in which the president claimed to be in the dark and the White House counsel said it was her job to keep things like that from the president. You ask what CEO says, “Don’t tell me — let me be blindsided by the media!”?
No leader wants to find out about problems from the media, or from his bosses.  A good leader wants to know about problems as they occur or are identified.  It's an axiom of leadership that an organization will only do what the boss checks.  So, a leader's job is to check things, constantly and completely.
This is a president who set up a system in which he imagines he is relieved of responsibility. Someone else’s job. Not his problem. Didn’t know. Doesn’t matter why. He ‘s “madder” than anyone he keeps telling us, but not mad enough to make certain senior advisers tell him what is going on. He wants to be the victim.
Another axiom of leadership is that you can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.  Our President should learn that lesson, if only from reading this blog and taking it to heart.  He is responsible for everything his people do or fail to do.  Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, Benghazi, the ACA rollout, they're all his responsibility and each has been a complete debacle.

This is a president that has never had to lead, has never been accountable, doesn't want to know the facts.  He's living in a bubble of his own making and no one can holding him responsible.  No one, that is, except The People.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Confused Democrat

It seems that Representative Alan Grayson (D-somewhere) doesn't seem to know history.  He's conflated the Tea Party with the KKK.  Oh, yeah, he went there.


The only problem, Congressman, is that the KKK was Democrat, all the way down.  No Republicans of any stripe in the KKK.  No, sir, it was all Democrat.  I'd think that a US Representative would know that, and would stop bringing it up.  But as long as you bring it up, I'll be here to remind you.

Red Flags

It looks like the media is finally waking up to the promise of our President and his signature accomplishment.  As the Associated Press tell us:
Project developers who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity — because they feared they would otherwise be fired — said they raised doubts among themselves whether the website could be ready in time. They complained openly to each other about what they considered tight and unrealistic deadlines. One was nearly brought to tears over the stress of finishing on time, one developer said. Website builders saw red flags for months.
Yet, the timeline was such that it had to go on October 1st, and the rollout began.  Now, the President is reduced to having pep rallies while knowing that the system failed under light load testing prior to the launch.

  The President has Verizon on the case, but IBD doesn't hold out much hope.
Tech experts say serious design flaws in the site could take weeks or months to resolve, according to the New York Times. Some experts told USA Today last week that the site used 10-year-old technology and that it might require a complete overhaul before it works right.
It looks like the media is finally starting to notice that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster, and now, suddenly it's not a disaster waiting to happen.  It's a disaster that's happening right now.

Monday, October 21, 2013

America's Finances

Jon Gabriel, over at Freedom Works, puts up a great little graphic that explains America's fiscal problem.  Sure, we can pay down the deficit, but what are we going to do about all that debt?

Jon goes on to explain.
The analogy is imperfect, but imagine the green is your salary, the yellow is the amount you're spending over your salary, and the red is your Visa statement. Then imagine your spouse runs into the room and shouts, “great news honey, our fiscal crisis is over. We just got approved for a new MasterCard!” Your first call would be to a marriage counselor or a shrink.
Yes, the analogy is imperfect, but the numbers give you some idea of what we're facing.  As daunting as the deficit might be, we've got to work on the debt.  By this chart, America owes about 7 times what it takes in every year and the debt can be laid across several administrations, both Republican and Democratic.

This is a serious problem and requires serious debate from both sides.  We're going to have to tighten belts and slash the budget if we ever intend to put these numbers in balance.  Kicking the can down the road is not an option.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

My half-dozen regular readers are familiar with The Ugly Rifle, a Savage that I rescued from the gun shop in 2011.  It's been reworked into a standard Savage hunting rifle, blind magazine, synthetic stock, it's altogether an uninteresting rifle, in .308 Winchester.  I decided in June that it would be the rifle that gets taken to the woods this year, and for us, this year starts next Saturday.  So, I had a decision to make.

Our hunting grounds are standard north Louisiana piney woods in an active dry-land oilfield.  Our shots are generally in the 50-150 yard range with the vast majority being under 100 yards.  My stand sits on a pipeline and there is a well-used crossing about 110 yards from my shooting window, but I've seen deer cross as close as 40 yards from the stand, and there's a creek crossing 85 yards down the hill.  That's my range, and those are my range markers.

The heart/lung area on a standard pineywoods whitetail is nine inches across.  We're not talking a small target area. Hold up a standard paper plate at your next church social.  That's the size of your target.  Put a bullet in that big ole plate, and you'll be dragging venison.

One thing uninteresting about the Ugly Rifle is the perverse resistance it shows to very fine accuracy.  It's a bone-stock Savage, with a flimsy tupperware stock and a pencil-thin barrel.  It weighs 8 lbs, loaded, with a scope and sling.  It shoots into about 1.5 inches with my indifferent bench technique and my wobbly bench.  One other attribute is that it is very ammo insensitive.  Whether I load 125 spitzers, 150 grain spitzers, or 165 grain spitzers, it shoots them all into that same circle.  I can post a 2" target at 100 yards and the rifle doesn't care what ammo you feed it, it shoots them all into that 2" circle.

But, hunting season starts Saturday, and I had a decision to make, so I went out to the bench and took down all the ammo.  It shows a decided preference for 150 grain Hornady SSTs, but I'm out of those at the moment.  It really likes 125 grain Sierra Gamekings, but I made that light-recoiling load for the grandkids.  It shoots 165 Gamekings into that 2" circle really well, and if I got out my calipers I'd probably find that it shoots them closer to 1.5" than it does to the 2" mark.

Finally, I said "What the hell" and grabbed a handful of those 165 Gamekings to put into the ammo cuff on the buttstock.  It's time to make a decision, and that decision is made.  At the ranges I'm hunting, I could probably use a good slug-shooting shotgun, or my old Thompson/Center Renegade.  I don't need fine benchrest accuracy; what I need is the knowledge that my rifle will put a well constructed bullet into that 9" fatal zone on a lightly constructed whitetail deer.  There's no sense obsessing about it.  This year it's the Ugly Rifle and 165 Gamekings.  If the deer cooperate, I know the rifle will do the job.  After that, I don't have anyone to blame but myself.

Pineville Goes Damp!

In the first alcohol referendum since 1981, the City of Pineville voters decided to allow restaurants to serve alcohol, and the voters spoke with a resounding volume.
That measure was a simple yes/no on whether to allow restaurants, and only restaurants, to sell alcoholic beverages. Previously, all alcohol sales were prohibited in the city.
The measure passed with 78.21 percent of the vote (1,849 votes, 515 against).
That simple measure was all that the voters were allowed to approve, but the nose of the camel is definitely under the tent.   Pineville isn't wet, but it's getting damp.

Pineville, LA is the largest incorportated area in the north part of Rapides Parish, and those wards are north of the Red River, which geographically divides the parish.  The demographics have changed in the north of Rapides parish since the early 1980s and I believe that the measure is long overdue.  The remaining parts of Wards 9, 10, and 11 are still dry, but I suspect that if the voters were given the opportunity to vote, the whole north of the river would go wet, totally wet, with both package sales, bars and lounges, and restaurant sales.  It's been 30 years since the voters were given a Yeah or Nay, and it might be time to revisit the proposition.

Let Freedom Ring.

Sunday Morning Dawg

The dog and the cat continue to hang out and play chase around the back yard.  The cat has gotten over being a "scaredy-cat" and allows Milady to scratch her.  I still can't get within ten feet of that cat, who will scurry under the deck when I try to get too close.

That's okay though.  As long as the cat is under the deck, the mice under there are going to be nervous, and I like it when the mice are nervous.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Chyron of the Day

If you don't know what a Chyron is, then don't feel alone.  I didn't know either until I Googled it, and it turns out that a chyron is the lower part of a graphic, used as a caption to the talking heads.  Hot Air highlights this one seen on Morning Joe.

Really?  How did the GOP flub the Obamacare launch?  No, dear readers, the horrible, terrible truly, very bad Obamacare launch is purely a Democratic, Obamanomic disaster.  The GOP is trying to repeal, delay or defund Obamacare, remember?  The only thing the GOP did is to give the media something else to talk about for two weeks.  If they had wanted to cover the Obamacare disaster, we wouldn't have stopped them.

Obama's Problem

Obama's big problem today is that his website doesn't work.  We've talked about this before, but other folks are starting to notice.  From the Huffington Post:
:Time remains for these problems to be resolved, but not much. "If things aren't resolved in three weeks, we've got some serious, serious problems," said Timothy Jost, a law professor and health care reform expert at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va., and an Obamacare supporter. "I don't think we're anywhere close to there yet, but if the whole thing collapses, it'll be another generation before we get this problem fixed."
Another generation, huh?  It seems that's the problem now.  Folks that can't access the marketplace, or don't want to access the marketplace, especially one that's twitchy and crashes for no apparent reason.
 Under these circumstances, the lion's share of the people who do whatever is necessary to sign up through HealthCare.gov are likely to be the sickest and most expensive to cover because they have the greatest need, Laszewski said. That would make the pool of people covered very costly, causing health insurers to lose money and likely rethink whether they want to participate in the exchanges, he said. "The fundamental threat to Obamacare is we don't get enough healthy people in the pool to keep the rates reasonable, and they are in grave danger of that problem," he said.
That's the problem in a nutshell.  If you don't have lots of young, healthy people signing up, they'll simply pay the penalty, which will probably be less expensive than the insurance.
If these problems persist longer -- weeks, months, a whole year -- the entire Obamacare project falls apart, Laszewski said: "It's a holy shit moment."
This whole project seems to be unsustainable from an actuarial standpoint, which is why it is doomed to fail.  Perhaps our best bet is simply to stand back and document the demise of this signature plan.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Train Wreck

Now that the unimaginable threat of default is past, and the contractors are back at work, I guess that we can turn our attention to Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, which has been described as a slow-motion train wreck.

I've seen a few train wrecks in my time and even the slow moving ones are train wrecks, so whether the wreck is slow moving or not, you're still left with a train wreck.  I've been reading a few articles this morning, and none is so damning as the one written by Conrad Black, at National Review.  The entire article is worth reading, but this one excerpt caused me to blow Diet Coke through my nose.
It is scandalous that there remains such a sadistic determination to inflict this measure, unaltered, on the country that does not want it, even though it has been launched and has sunk, without a ripple, as soon as it cleared the slipways, as the entire system of joining up and doing as this insane measure purports to require is impossible.
I would disagree with Mr. Black that the ship has sunk coming off the slipways.  More accurately, the friction from the slipways has started a smoldering fire, and the derelict hulk now floats forlornly in the harbor, resisting all efforts at salvage.  It is an eerily disturbing sight.  One can't take their eyes from it.

Nick Gillespie of the Beast tells us that:
Healthcare.gov is a colossal, expensive failure that projects a 1970s-era DMV experience into cyberspace. It wasn’t for lack of money.
The Miami Herald says that finding a Floridian who successfully navigated the site is approaching urban legend.
 The Miami Herald searched high and low for individuals who completed enrollment for a subsidized health plan through the marketplace, also called an exchange, launched by the federal government on Oct. 1 in 36 states, including Florida.
Without success, apparently.

We're told that the Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land, and we'd better get used to it.  I am reminded that laws often change, appeals seem to drag on forever, and even convicted murderers sit on Death Row for years before their final date with the needle.  Many are wondering which newspaper will first break the story that the White House is thinking about delaying Obamacare

They can't delay it.  But they can't make it float, either.  It's a smoldering wreck, floating in the harbor for all to see.  There's no more delaying it, no more obscuring the fact or the news cycle.  This thing is a disaster, and it's got our President's name all over it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Political Logos

From Doug, over at SondraK's


That's pretty good, and if you haven't seen the original clip, it's instructive to watch the bison knock over a NPS barricade.



We don't need no stinking barrycades.  I think the Tea Party should adopt that bison as a logo.

Government - Who Needs It?

Glenn Harlan Reynolds knocks it out of the park this morning with his article in USA Today.
With these lessons learned, here's my budget proposal: An across-the-board cut of 5% in every government department's budget line. (You can't convince me -- and you'll certainly have a hard time convincing voters -- that there's not 5% waste to be found in any government program.) Then a five-year freeze at that level. Likewise, a one-year moratorium on new regulations, followed by strict limits on new regulatory action: Perhaps a rule that all new business regulations won't have the force of law until approved by Congress.
This approach would drastically cut the deficit, and as the economy grew, our debt-to-GDP ratio would improve over time instead of steadily worsening. (And, with a guarantee of reduced spending and regulation, economic growth would probably also take off.)
I agree with Insty, and think that every good manager should be able to find 5% in his budget to draw down the deficit, and the debt.   But, Congress won't do it, because they're.... Congress.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

At the Pawn Shop

Today, between work and work, I went into my favorite pawn shop looking for some bling for Milady to find under the Christmas tree.  After concluding my business at the bling counter (and I'm not saying whether I bought anything or not), I walked over to say Howdy to my favorite gun-counter guy.  We talked about business for a little bit, and I noticed a forlorn, almost lonely shotgun leaning against the back wall.  It seemed familiar so I asked about it.  A New England Firearms Partner shotgun in 20 gauge, with a modified choke barrel.

I've got lots of grandsons, and a nice, clean, single-shot 20 gauge might be just the ticket for chasing squirrels and bunnies.  I asked the counter guy how much.  He shrugged and said "$60.00?"

 I looked at him over my glasses.  "$60.00 out the door."  He turned and gave me a 4473.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Deuce Coupe

Seen in front of the office today, a 1932 Ford Coupe.  It's rough but it's mostly all there and the young man that is driving it is rebuilding it one paycheck at a time.

He's the son of one of the administrators, and he drove it in from Wisconsin this morning.  He says he's not going to chop it, but will fill the roof hole with plywood and upholstery, then get to work on the interior.

Oh, to tool down the road in a sweet Deuce Coupe

It's About Time

Purely local news, but it looks like our Rapides Parish Fair is finally moving from its old-time venue at the Coliseum to new digs south of town.
If all goes as planned, this fair will mark the end of a decades-long run at the Rapides Parish Coliseum. The plan is to move to a new location on Highway 71 South near Louisiana State University at Alexandria.
That's great news as the fair had outgrown the venue at the Coliseum.  Parking was a disaster, as the area around the fairgrounds has grown tremendously over the past decades and the Coliseum simply could not accommodate everyone who wanted to attend.  I quit going to the fair several years ago, simply because getting in and out was such a hassle.

Kudos to the committee that decided it was finally time to move.  The Parish Fair is a huge event, and we can only hope that with the move, it continues to grow and prosper.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Renewable Fuels

I keep hearing that the EPA is going to reduce the amount of ethanol that is blended into the nations gasoline supply.  I'm no fan of blended gasoline as I know the havoc it rains on small engines, especially those engines that aren't used ever week or so.  As a result of that havoc, I only use un-blended fuel (non ethanol) in my small engines.  We've got a couple of places locally that sell it at a very small premium and it's worth it to me to use real gasoline in my small engines.

I know a couple of things about ethanol, and it's hard to break out the facts from the bullshit, but as best I can tell, it takes 140 gallons of fuel to plow, plant, grow, and harvest an acre of corn.    That harvested acre of corn will produce about 328 gallons of ethanol for blending into our gasoline.  I don't know how much fuel it takes to convert the raw corn into ethanol and I've seen estimates going both ways, saying that producing ethanol is energy efficient, and I've seen estimates saying that producing ethanol requires more energy than it returns.

However, the one thing I need to know is that the ethanol producers are threatening to sue the EPA.  That speaks volumes to me.
Already, some ethanol groups are threatening to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which administers the fuel blending program, if it lowers its volume target.
As your basic Tea-Party American, I believe that the market will sort it out, and the government shouldn't be in the market at all.  Let the motorists decide.  If ethanol is a good deal, it will survive in the market.  If it's not a good idea, it will go the way that other not-good ideas went.  There's no reason that the government should be setting mandates for fuel blending.  The market will sort it out all by itself.

Get the government out of my fuel tank.  We became the greatest nation in the world without the EPA.  They're non-essential and should stay non-essential.

First, Make a Roux

I learned cajun cooking at the knee of my grandmother, Gretna Segura (her maiden name, she married a Scots-Irish named) Anderson.  She was born on Avery Island and spent most of her early years in New Iberia, before she immigrated to north Louisiana after she was married.  She didn't speak English until she went to grammar school, and her voice always had that peculiar, endearing french lilt that I find so attractive in a woman.  When I got into my teen years, I'd ask her how a particular dish was made, and she'd tell me, "First, make a roux."  It's the basis of lots of cajun dishes, and nowadays when someone asks me for  a recipe, I'm apt to channel Gretna and say, "First, make a roux."

A roux is nothing more than oil and flour, cooked on a stovetop in a heavy skillet or dutch oven.  I normally start with equal parts of oil and flour, and I'm apt to add a little minced garlic for flavor.  Let the oil get hot, then stir in the flour.  You might need to add a little more flour, or a little more oil.  What you want is a thick liquid, not quite a paste.  The flour is suspended in the oil and as it touches the bottom of the skillet, it turns brown slowly.  I cook over a medium fire, and if I want to slow down the cooking I'll reduce the heat.  A good roux is only learned through practice, and I've thrown out rouxs that just weren't quite right.  The secret to roux is stirring it, using a flat implement to constantly scrape the bottom of the skillet so that nothing sticks.  You've got to keep that roux moving, stirring constantly, slowly, until all those little flour granules get uniformly brown.  One of the supreme truths to making a roux is  if you turn your back on it, it will burn.  You cannot watch TV, or check on the baby, or talk on the telephone when you're making a roux.  You're totally engaged while making the roux, and you'd better pay attention, or you'll be pouring the whole thing in the dog's dish.

I like a dark, rich roux, so this morning after my coffee, I got out a skillet and began the task of making the roux that will flavor the gumbo I'm making for lunch.  Like Gretna taught me, I stirred, and stirred and stirred.  Once the roux got to the color I wanted, I took it off the heat, and kept stirring for another five minutes while it cooled.

That's a 12-inch skillet and you can see my roux paddle on the left side of the picture.  I started with a cup oil, a cup of flour and about a tablespoon of minced garlic.  In another hour I'll go to the store and get the rest of the ingredients.  I'm making a basic chicken and sausage gumbo and I'll feed the kids and grandkids for lunch.  That roux will make a big pot of gumbo and with my bunch I'm always concerned that the pot might not be big enough.

Bon apetite.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Last week was a busy one, with moving one son and helping others.  There are times when I wonder what is going to happen next, and the dog is never sure who is going to walk in the door, or what we'll wind up doing next.

Keep your guard up, pup!  We never know what's liable to happen around this place.  Maybe this week will be calmer than last week.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Flat-Rocking

Watching the LSU-Florida game, I heard a rumbling outside, and went to look.  Just Damn, it's flat-rocking outside.  Looking at Accuwather, it looks like a cold front is moving though, and there's lots of pretty colors on the weather radar map.


Flat-rocking is a term from my time in the cattle business, and means that it's raining really, really hard.  Like a cow peeing on a flat rock.  I guess Milady and I will hunker-down and watch the rain tonite.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Just Like Home

Elections in Louisiana are fun, and we've had our share of scoundrels, scandals, and hanky-panky.  However, the guys in Azerbaijan are making us look like pikers.  They've released the election results before the polls even opened.  Really!
Even still, one expects a certain ritual in these sorts of authoritarian elections, a fealty to at least the appearance of democracy, if not democracy itself. So it was a bit awkward when Azerbaijan's election authorities released vote results – a full day before voting had even started.
The vote counts – spoiler alert: Aliyev was shown as winning by a landslide – were pushed out on an official smartphone app run by the Central Election Commission. It showed Aliyev as "winning" with 72.76 percent of the vote. That's on track with his official vote counts in previous elections: he won ("won"?) 76.84 percent of the vote in 2003 and 87 percent in 2008.
Releasing the results before the polls open!  Brilliant!  Why didn't we think of that?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

CGI Federal

Who is CGI Federal?  Good question.  As it turns out, they run the most expensive website in history, at a price tag of over $634 million dollars, to design and build the website for the rollout of Obamacare.  Their Wikipedia page lists them as a Canadian multi-national company.  As an IT giant, they've got their own webpage, which tells us that they can
Providing timely, accurate, secure and personalized information through a consistent, easy-to-navigate interface.
Which explains why healtcare.gov has been so easy to navigate.  According to Digital Trends:
The site itself, which apparently underwent major code renovations over the weekend, still rejects user logins, fails to load drop-down menus and other crucial components for users that successfully gain entrance, and otherwise prevents uninsured Americans in the 36 states it serves from purchasing healthcare at competitive rates – Healthcare.gov’s primary purpose. The site is so busted that, as of a couple days ago, the number of people that successfully purchased healthcare through it was in the “single digits,” according to the Washington Post.
This entire rollout looks like waste, fraud, and abuse to me.  $634million is a lot of money to spend on a website that doesn't work.

It may not be all CGI's fault, though.  Silicone Angle reports that other contractors were involved, but that the launch was still an unbridled disaster.  Go read the whole thing at the link, but the site shows a decided lack of planning.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is about as ugly any kind of site deployment gets.  They had three and a half years to get this right, do better and more testing.  They have failed miserably and they are handling it miserably.  There clearly should have been more testing, and with all due respect to Matthew Hancock, discovering these issues was as easy as using some freely available plugins to a free web browser used by millions of people around the world.  That’s pretty sad.  Now, there are ways to fix it using technology – Application monitoring, machine data, DevOps, Big Data – those are all things that could help.

This thing wasn't ready to trot out, but they felt they had to launch it to preserve our President's signature achievement.  So far, that achievement has been a flop, which to my way of thinking perfectly epitomized the Obama presidency.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Emperor's Clothes

Like many Americans I'm watching the kabuki theater that is Washington DC this week,  and I'm amused at the power struggle between the President and John Boehner.  After a week of government shutdown, the sky hasn't fallen, the mail gets delivered (after a fashion), and the only real inconvenience has been the inconveniences that the Obama administration has put on The People to make them aware that we're in a shutdown.  In short, it's been a temper tantrum.  A tantrum easily ignored by adults.

Now we're faced with an historic default, and the kabuki theater kicks into high gear.  We positively can't let that happen, because there will  be an earth-shattering ka-boom, comets will fall from the sky, and we'll all be faced with certain financial ruin.  Or will we?

I've always maintained that the smaller the government, the better for The People, and when a politician makes a promise he can't keep, he won't keep it.  Promises that can't be kept won't be.  Things that can't go on forever, won't go on forever.

So, I'm wondering how many of the threats we've heard this week will come to pass, and how much of the gloom-and-doom is actually on the way?  While I'm convinced that a default might be historic, I'm not convinced that it will bring the end of the world, and I'm frankly curious to see if anyone would really notice.

I also wonder if the Emperor has any clothes?

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

So, Who's Right?

In the ongoing debate about the budget crisis, the government shutdown, the looming default, it is instructive to see what the leadership thinks, and to determine who is right.  I guess we should first go to a junior Democratic Senator, one Barack Obama from Illinois, and see what he had to say during his tenure as Senator.
The fact that we're here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. Leadership means 'The buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.
Then, we should go to the sitting president of the United States, one Barack Obama, and see what he has to say about the current crisis.
"I think what has changed is they're aware of the fact that I'm not budging when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States," Obama said about the debt ceiling. "You don't pay a ransom, you don't provide concessions for Congress doing its job and America paying its bills."
So, who is right, Mr. President?  The junior senator from Illinois or the current President?  If, as you said earlier, America has a failure of leadership, just exactly whose leadership are we talking about?

I would recommend to my half-dozen readers that we ask the President that question, and would also recommend that they notice that both quotes come from USA Today, a leading newspaper in great hotels across the country.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Bowl of the Red

Today is the first cool day of the season, and the weather weenies are telling us that the temps will be under 50 degrees this evening.  As such, I had a hankering for a bowl of chili, so I stopped on the way home, picked up a couple of pounds of good ground chuck, some onions and peppers, and some tomato juice.

We'll let that simmer for another half-hour to blend the flavors and give them depth.  Then break out the saltine crackers and have a bowl.

I'm loving this cool weather.  I may be forced to make a gumbo later this week.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Optics

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one that I've long had on my bucket list to see.  I've got some friends on that wall, and one day soon, I may make the trip to Washington to walk on the mall and pay my respects to friends who are listed there.  It seems that our President doesn't have the respect that I do for our veterans, because all evidence shows that he's closing the memorials to the brave men and women that those memorials represent.  Doug Macontis says it well.
Quite honestly, the closure of the open air memorials on the National Mall has been among the more bizarre post-shutdown moves that those in authority have taken. Ordinarily, these memorials are open all day and night every day of the year. To the extent that they are staffed, it is typically by National Park Service employees giving guided tours, not by Park Police (although there may be regular patrols of these memorials at night by officers as part of their regular rounds). The fact that these employees, who are essentially just tour guides aren’t around doesn’t really detract at all from the experience of visiting the memorials themselves. Those employees are generally not present after dark during normal times anyway, and yet no effort is ever made to restrict anyone from visiting those locations during the night. Indeed, seeing the Vietnam, Korea, and World War II Memorials at night when they are lit up is something that D.C. area residents and tourists commonly do when the weather permits. It’s also worth noting that the closure policy also applies to the Martin Luther King Jr. and FDR Memorials, both of which are also open air, and the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, both of which are also common locations for nocturnal walking tours of the Mall. Furthermore, it arguably cost the government more to erect the barricades and staff the memorials with Park Police than it would have to keep them open albeit without the tour guides.
That's very well said, and very generous to those in charge.  If I had written that paragraph, I would have said that anyone who would order the closing of open-air memorial is a worthless sonofabitch, undeserving of our nation's respect.  If the President himself had any respect for the warriors, living and dead, who are immortalized in those memorials, he would immediately order that the Park Police stand down.  He hasn't, which makes him a worthless sonofabitch.

Cool Front

Last night, we got our first cool front of the season, and truthfully, it feels like October should feel.  Milady and I were busy in Jena, LA yesterday with her family, and in our sloth got up too late to get to church this morning.  I'm sure that the congregation will understand.  But, I'm reveling in this weather and I'm sure that the squirrel hunters are loving it too.  That light rain probably did wonders for the forest floor this morning and the cool temps should have the woods-rats moving about.  The only problem would be the light breeze which isn't optimal for seeing squirrels in trees still holding foliage, which in Louisiana is all of the trees.  Our leaves haven't begun turning yet and won't for another several weeks.

From the forecast, the temperature will dip a little more tonight, to a low of 49F.  While I'm sure that we'll have more warm days, I might be well advised to drag out the jackets and make sure that they're presentable.  I'm looking forward to cooler weather.

Sunday Morning Dawg

The dog and the little stray cat have made friends and they play in the backyard every morning and evening.  When the dog is tired, he'll come lay on the concrete and the cat stays near him, but won't let us touch her.

The cat is curious, but if we reach to touch her, she scurries off.  Milady says that Beau has a pet cat, and so far, that's as close as we've come to her.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Fries With That

Milady and I are in Jena this afternoon, at a town homecoming celebration that they call Howdy Neighbor Day.  Milady was born and raised in LaSalle Parish and graduated from Jena High School.  Tobinight, Percy Sledge is heading the entertainment, and I'd like to listen to some music.

In the meantime, I've posted this light-hearted jab at our friends on the other end of the political spectrum.

Y'all enjoy your Saturday.

Out of the Woods

I went out to the deer lease this morning to look around and do battle with red wasps.  When I opened the door of the stand, there were six big nests inside the box stand, and I gave them something to think about with a dose of Wasp & Hornet spray, then two big foggers in the stand.  I'll go back next week and see if they've decided to vacate.

Then I drove around to my feeder and filled it with corn and put fresh batteries in the timer.  Looking back toward my stand, I took a picture to evaluate my camoflage.  This photo is taken from the shooting lane and is 110 yards from the stand, which is in the middle of the photo.

Can you see the stand?  It's way down there in the sunny spot.  Of course, you can click the picture for a better look,  but I'll zoom it for you just a bit.


If you look closely at the center of the photo you can see two square eyes.  Those are shooting windows and I'm not happy that we can see them.  I'll have to add some camo to break up those square corners.  One more picture and you'll see what I mean, but the photo is starting to break down at this magnification.

It's not bad, but it's not great.  I need to do something to break up that outline.  Square corners are a bad idea in a woodland environment.  It screams Man-Made and though that stand has been there for four years, and the deer are used to it, every little edge I can use is one I'll use.  I have some ideas to break up that outline and we'll be looking at those ideas in the next couple of weeks.


Hunting Season

Hunting season opens with a whimper hereabouts, gradually settling in over several months.  Dove season opened Labor Day at noon, the traditional opening of the hunting season.  Archery season for deer opened in my area last week, and today is the opening day of squirrel season.  The duck hunters have had one split of teal season and they're working on blinds getting ready for the opening of big duck season.

Squirrel season opens this morning, statewide.  It will remain open until February 28th.

Deer season opens for the regular gun season at various times in various areas.  Locally, the regular gun season opens November 16 in Area 1, but it opens where I hunt in Area 2 on October 26th.

I'm not squirrel hunting this morning, but I am going to the lease.  It's way past time to start prepping my deer stand and I haven't been out there since I injured my foot last January.  I'll probably need to do battle with red wasps in my deer stand, but modern chemistry has given me an upper hand.

I'm heading to the woods.  Y'all enjoy your Saturday.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Piracy and Protests

I've been a fan of Richard Fernandez for a long time, since he wrote under the nom de plume Wretchard at the Belmont Club.  He now writes a regular column for PJMedia, and this week's offering is a good one.  In it, he talks about Tom Clancy who  recently died, and also about the Greenpeace pirates.  He ties together with the force that once held the reins to normalcy on the seas, the US Navy.
The price of stage protest is the “understanding”. The acceptance of the unstated limits imposed by those who don’t kid around. What many activists really do, though they may not comprehend it, though they may deny it, is to abet the very forces which left unchecked would destroy them.
Ironically the courage of Greenpeace is subsidized by the valor of those they detest. For the stage pirates can only go through their steps while the real pirates are at bay; and their right to prattle about fascism is only possible while the real fascists are kept at arm’s length by those they will never thank, whose existence they will never acknowledge.
Tom Clancy’s greatest contribution was to uncover the physical basis of our liberty, to sing the song of the rock that civilization ultimately stood on. And for a brief period of lucidity right around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, it actually became cooler to captain an SSN than be Che Guevara. We’ve forgotten that now.
As they say on the internets, go read the whole thing.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

White House Being Vindictive

It's bad enough that we're going through a government shutdown without the White House being vindictive.  It seems that they're shuttering private companies who pay rent to manage concessions on Federal Lands.  As PJMedia reports:
However, today, we have been told by senior member of the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture that people “above the department”, which I presume means the White House, plan to order the Forest Service to needlessly and illegally close all private operations. I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.
It seems that Mr. Meyer runs a company that operates campgrounds on US Forest Service and Dept Agriculture.  Not only does he not cost the government anything, he pays rents to the Treasury.  It's mean-spirited, it's vindictive, and it makes no sense.  But, there is politics involved and the White House wants to make it as painful as possible.  

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

What's Obama Buying?

It looks as if our President is trying to scare Wall Street.  He's telling them it's time to panic, just a little, over the debt ceiling negotiations.
Nothing complicated here. In order to strengthen his hand in negotiations, the president’s decided to try to kickstart a hopefully not-too-damaging market sell-off over the debt ceiling. The more the Dow drops tomorrow, the more Boehner and other moderate Republicans will think twice about letting this process play out all the way up to the deadline on October 17th. And if the market doesn’t dive sharply enough — maybe “only” 200 or 300 points — he can always nudge it again next week with more dire rhetoric. It might take losing a thousand points or even two, but damn it, if that’s what it takes to teach these tea partiers not to scare the hell out of markets by behaving irresponsibly, then oh well.
Or, maybe he's overexposed in the futures market and he's looking to sell short. This looks like pure market manipulation to me, and if I were to try to manipulate markets, it would be against the law.  Of course, Hillary made a killing in the cattle market and no one seriously accused her of anything.

Maybe the Security and Exchange Commission should look into our President's market manipulation.  Oh, wait, they work for him, don't they?

Harry Reid Hates Sick Kids

When asked today if he would support a funding measure that allowed funding for kids with cancer, Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the Senate, declined to do so.
Via the Free Beacon, what’s the most amazing thing about this? That Reid gets a variation of the “why do you hate children?” question that’s typically reserved for Republicans? Or that he actually responds, when asked if he’ll agree to the House’s new bill to fund NIH in the name of keeping clinical trials for kids with cancer up and running, “Why would we want to do that?”
And that's all you need to know about Harry Reid.  If it doesn't suit his political purposes, he's against it.   Harry Reid is one reason that I adopted the post label "Godless Democrats"  He's a soulless, small-minded, un-serious person.  He's despicable, and we still don't have a full answer concerning his pederasty.

GOP Anarchists and the Budget

Nick Gilleipie talks about the GOP proposal to enact a number of small funding bills to essential functions of the government.  It's not a bad idea.
But in a Washington where 95 percent of Department of Education employees were sent home today because they are "non-essential," I'd think twice about simply moving to restore pre-shutdown funding to the government. It would be nice to dust off actual budget proposals and start talking about what the government should do and how much (or how much little) it should spend in pursuit of those goals.
If they're non-essential, then they are not essential to the function of government.  Perhaps we should dust off the budget and have a national conversation about what is necessary and what is not necessary.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Slimdown

We're a day into the shutdown, and it doesn't appear to be a shutdown at all.  Investor's Business Daily covers some of what is happening.
A Sept. 26 letter from the assistant to the president for management and administration to the director of the Office of Management and Budget (couldn’t those jobs be merged?) comically outlines the shutdown plan.
“Approximately 436 employees will be designated as excepted or exempt to perform excepted functions,” the manager of the White House budget tells the manager of the executive branch budget. “The remaining 1,265 will be placed in furlough status once they have concluded activities necessary to shut down their offices.”
Activities like what? Turning off the lights?
The Executive Office of the President “has carefully reviewed its personnel needs … to ensure that the mission … is carried out without significant interruption.”
But the letter says during the shutdown it’ll take 12 taxpayer-paid employees “to support the vice president in the discharge of his constitutional duties.” Call them the dirty dozen, since they take care of what Vice President John Nance Garner called “a bucket of warm spit.”
What do these 12 absolutely essential non-Secret Service vice-presidential staff do, guarantee that Joe Biden doesn’t make a gaffe during the shutdown?
As Instapundit says, go read the whole thing.  But, I have trouble believing that the whole government is in trouble.  Non-essential personnel are, by definition, non-essential.  There's plenty of fat to cut, and the government needs to slim down.

Let's start with a 5% budget cut.  Not a 5% reduction in the increase, but an actual 5% budget cut, across the board and reduce the budget by 5% per year until the budget is balanced.  Then, freeze spending for five years to pay down the debt.